Best Public Service Makeover


Anyone who has siblings knows that sharing the spotlight can be difficult. With all the excitement generated by downtown's brand-new, gleaming, angular library (above right), we're taking this opportunity to refocus the hubbub onto our city's smaller NEIGHBORHOOD LIBRARY BRANCHES. This year, "Libraries for All," the same 1998 bond that allowed for improvements at 22 existing branches as well as the construction of the Central Library, saw the launch of stunning new branches on Beacon Hill and High Point in West Seattle. Like the well-used and frequently gaped-at Capitol Hill outpost, these libraries lend their communities not just books but neighborhood pride and a sense of empowerment; they are a reflection of their users. Inside a space that resembles an inverted postmodern arc, the new Beacon Hill branch houses 24 public computers and collections in Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Spanish; and the High Point Library's meeting room has views of the Puget Sound that rival those tucked in serendipitous corners at the central branch. Outside the High Point branch, terra cotta relief sculptures by Seattle artist Steve Gardner allude to legends from various cultures about constellations and the heavens, and an eco-friendly landscape provides a sense of home and growth. Natural light floods both new branches, creating warm glows— and opportunities to save on energy costs. Beacon Hill Library: 2821 Beacon Ave. S., 206-684-4711. High Point Library: 3411 S.W. Raymond St., 206-684-7454.


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